Giada De Laurentiis' Secret To Better Pomodoro Sauce

A homemade pomodoro sauce is one of the simplest and most versatile ingredients you can stock in your kitchen. "Pomodoro" simply means "tomato" in Italian, so you can guess that this staple is the most basic (but not boring!) tomato sauce you can make. You may already have a favorite recipe for this sauce, but if you're open to improvements, try following pro chef Giada De Laurentiis' lead. The superstar author, TV host, and authority on Italian food has taken to TikTok to reveal the secret ingredient in her pomodoro sauce recipe.


My basic pomodoro sauce. The secret is the parmesan rinds! Recipe on @Giadzy #pomodoro #tomato #tomatosauce #saucetomato #italianfood #marinarasauce #marinara #bestmarinara #giada #giadadelaurentiis #giadzy

♬ Cupid – Twin Ver. (FIFTY FIFTY) – Sped Up Version – sped up 8282

In the video, De Laurentiis starts whipping up her weekly batch of pomodoro sauce by toasting garlic in olive oil. She then adds canned tomatoes, carrots, basil, and a special touch: leftover rinds from wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Calling them her "secret ingredient," De Laurentiis notes that once she uses up most of the cheese, she stores the rinds in her freezer until she's ready to add them to recipes for a flavor boost. The chef also mentions in the comments of the TikTok that she removes the rinds once the sauce is done cooking.

What unique benefits can parmesan rinds add to a sauce, given that you're going to add the cheese on top of your pasta, pizza, or meatballs anyway? The answer is simple, and will convince you that De Laurentiis knows what's up. You just might start saving up rinds like she does, and adding them to all your pasta sauce recipes.

Why add parmesan rinds to tomato sauce?

The star of pomodoro sauce is obviously tomatoes, but simmering tomatoes alone doesn't make for a flavorful or nuanced sauce. Giada De Laurentiis adds a deeper flavor to her sauce in several ways, yet none of them over-complicate the simplicity of this Italian classic. From the toasted garlic to the fresh basil to the use of carrots (which the chef says will mellow out the tomatoes' acidity), every element serves to enhance or deepen the freshness of the sauce. Parmesan rinds serve a particularly unique function. 

Parmesan rinds impart a salty, rich, umami essence to balance the fruity tomatoes, while also thickening the sauce just a tad. While you might feel skeptical about eating the rind of a cheese (even though the rinds are fished out of the sauce), plenty of cheeses have edible, delicious rinds. This includes Parmigiano Reggiano, and the more affordable, less regulated version we know as simply "parmesan." The tough rinds of these cheeses are not appealing to nibble on, but they work pure magic when added to a pot of sauce.

With the addition of the rinds, your sauce will not only taste delightfully complex, with savory, tangy, and sweet notes, but you'll save on food waste. It's a shame to throw out all the complex flavor in the cheese rinds, especially if you paid for authentic Parmigiano Reggiano (which is what De Laurentiis uses). Storing leftover rinds in your freezer is a win for your food and your wallet.

Stretch a pot of sauce into several meals

A pot of homemade pomodoro sauce can go a long way. As seen in her TikTok video, Giada De Laurentiis makes a big batch to use throughout the week. To follow her head, cook up a big pot of parmesan-kissed tomato sauce and consider freezing it in ice cube trays, so you can thaw and use it as needed. Frozen tomato sauce will last for up to six months.

Try thinking beyond Italian food to make the best use of your sauce. You can turn tomato sauce into curry by adding coconut milk, ginger, cilantro, and curry powder, or thin out the sauce with broth and half-and-half to create creamy tomato soup. You can even add canned cannellini beans to the sauce, dollop fresh ricotta cheese on top, and serve with crusty bread for a simple but hearty dinner.

If you prefer only a little cheese to go with your tomato-sauced dishes, there are other easy ways to kick up a basic pomodoro. Roast a head or two of garlic until soft, and incorporate the creamy, roasted cloves into your sauce for a sweet and umami flavor, as opposed to a sharp pungency. Stirring a glug each of heavy cream and vodka into pomodoro makes a shortcut vodka sauce, or use a sprinkle of nutmeg to add a hint of warm and unexpected flavor. It won't be obvious in the final sauce, but deepens and increases the aroma.